In a prior edition of the Daily Dose, we discussed recent developments in the investigation of spinal cord stimulation (SCS), and research suggesting that the frequency (electrical cycles) of stimulation delivered could affect the degree of pain modulation. Last week, Case Western Reserve University announced that it has been awarded a 4-year, $2.4 million federal grant to conduct further study into high-frequency spinal cord stimulation as a therapeutic option for chronic pain. A research team involved in the Cleveland Functional Electrical Stimulation (FES) Center will use the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke grant to further clarify why high frequency works, and to further the development of new and powerful alternative treatments.
Electrical stimulation has been used for nearly 40 years to ease suffering. It has typically been considered as a last resort for patients with refractory pain. But investigators recently found that drastically increasing the cycles of electricity applied—from 20 per second to 10,000—halted pain in some patients who otherwise found no relief. Kevin Kilgore, PhD, professor of orthopaedics at Case Western Reserve School of Medicine, commented: “Some who don’t get relief on standard SCS do get relief with high frequency SCS. If we can figure out how it works, we can optimize and enhance the procedure to get better pain relief.” The team plans to test different wave forms of stimulation on animal models to determine what nerves are activated or blocked under different parameters. With that information, they will take steps to improve their ability to either activate nerves that provide relief or block nerves that signal pain.
For more articles discussing SCS, click here.
Read more about the grant initiative and research objectives here.